Rabbi Paul’s Prophecy
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thes 4:16–17.
Rabbi Paul told us that Rabbi Yeshua will descend to earth the same way he ascended to heaven Acts 1:11 with a cry of command Jn 5:28–29 that summons the dead to the Last Judgment, attended by St. Michael the Archangel, guardian of God’s people Israel Dan 12:1 and leader of the angelic army Jude 9; Rev 12:7. God announced his arrival on Mt. Sinai with a stentorian trumpet blast Ex 19:16–17, and he will again sound the stentorian trumpet 1 Cor 15:52 to announce his Second Coming.
The “dead in Christ,” the faithful departed, have been living in spiritual union with Rabbi Yeshua as they together await the resurrection 2 Cor 5:8. Then Rabbi Yeshua’s faithful who are still living in earthly life will be caught up, or raptured, to join the saints of the ages as they rise into glory. That final generation will not die and then be raised; their bodies will be instantly glorified and made immortal 1 Cor 15:51–53.
Rabbi Yeshua’s Prophecy
Rabbi Yeshua declared, “They will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other … Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place” Mt 24:30–31, 34. He then immediately added, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” Mt 24:36.
The Jerusalem Judgment
The ancient rabbis reckoned a generation as forty years, following, “And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness” Num 14:33. We read also, “For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the nation, the men of war that came forth out of Egypt, perished, because they did not hearken to the voice of the LORD” Josh 5:6.
Mosaic Judaism’s most holy place was the Temple, where the Shkhina dwelled with us. Jeremiah had proclaimed for God woe to the priests of Solomon’s Temple, “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” Jer 23:1. Jeremiah foretold God‘s punishment, the Temple’s destruction in 586 BC and the Babylonian Exile, “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land” Jer 23:5.
Rabbi Yeshua, the promised Mashiakh, had just condemned the Jewish authorities for their sins, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice …” Mt 23:2–3. He told us that these sins were particularly grave because they emphasized the minutiae of Judaism while ignoring its vital inner core. “They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men” Mt 23:5–7. After a similar Dies Iraewarning of seven woes Mt 23:13–29 to the scribes and Pharisees, Rabbi Yeshua declared, “Truly, I say to you, all this will come upon this generation” Mt 23:36. They would personally face judgment.
Later in his Olivet discourse Rabbi Yeshua warned his shlikhim of the Second Temple destruction, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down” Mt 24:2, using the same language for the same time interval, “This generation will not pass away till all these things take place” Mt 24:34.
Two Judgments in the Same Discourse
In the Olivet discourse, Rabbi Yeshua spoke of both the Jerusalem Judgment and the Second Coming. To distinguish between them, Scripture scholars use two literary devices, the inclusio and the chiasm.
In Rabbi Yeshua’s time there were no chapter and verse notations, Rabbi Matityahu‘s Gospel, for instance, was a single continuous stream of text. Signposts such as the inclusio were necessary to help hearers or readers understand a rabbi’s sermon.
An inclusio repeats an exact phrase to bracket a subject. In the Olivet discourse Rabbi Yeshua mentions “this generation” twice, at 23:36 and 24:34. Everything within these two signs addresses only the Jerusalem Judgment. In this case, part of Rabbi Yeshua’s inclusio is in chapter 23 and part in chapter 24, making it harder for modern readers to notice, but Rabbi Matityahu expected his readers to recognize that only “this generation” is covered within this inclusio.
Within this inclusio is a chiasm, a stepladder of ideas. Before the printing press made written texts easily available, important moral teachings were structured so as to be easily remembered. Writers today build to a climax, and then end (A, B, C, climax). Think of the Washington Monument; it rises toward a climax and ends there.
A chiasm resembles the St. Louis Gateway Arch, which rises to a climax at the top but then descends in reverse order so the ascending and descending floors are in perfect symmetry on either side (A, B, C, climax, C’, B’ A’).
The chiasm doesn’t repeat exact phrases as the inclusio does, but the corresponding sections use related ideas, usually similar but sometimes contrasting. The climax is the crucial point of any chiastic address.
The Olivet Discourse Chiastic Diagram
Rabbi Yeshua gave the Olivet discourse many centuries before the chapter and verse divisions existed, so the crossing of a chapter line and the fact that some themes cover only a half-verse and others cover several verses are of no consequence.
Also, after the central statement, the apostrophe that follows each letter is called a “prime.” So the entire chiasm runs from A to A-prime.
A This generation 23:36
B Gathering rejected 23:37
C See the Son of Man 23:38–39
D Going away 24:1a
E Thrown down 24:1b-2
F Knowledge sought 24:3a
G Sign of coming 24:3b
H False messiahs 24:4–5
I Time of suffering protracted 24:6–8
J Tribulation 24:9
K Do not fall away 24:10–11
L Wickedness 24:12
M The end 24:13
Z Preach the gospel of the kingdom 24:14
L’ Sacrilege 24:15
K’ Flee! 24:16–20
J’ Tribulation 24:21
I’ Time of suffering shortened 24:22
H’ False messiahs 24:23–26
G’ Lightning sign 24:27
F’ Knowledge denied 24:28
E’ Falling 24:29
D’ Appearing 24:30a
C’ See the Son of Man 24:30b
B’ Gathering successful 24:31
A’ This generation 24:32–34
The Olivet Discourse Continues
The Olivet discourse continues after the end of the chiasm. Since the end of the chiasm corresponds to the end of the inclusio, we know that the subject matter changed after we passed the second mention of “this generation.”
The transition verse, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” Mt 24:35, unites the two Olivet subjects even as it separates them. Even after heaven and earth pass away, Rev 21:1, Rabbi Yeshua‘s judgments will not pass away. At the end of time the Jerusalem Judgment, a series of particular Judgments, will merge into the Second Coming, which will endure for all eternity.
Rabbi Yeshua’s Arrival
Adam, while in the state of original justice, committed the original sin against God. This sin against God, who is infinite, could be redeemed only by an infinite redeemer. Rabbi Yeshua as the infinite Son of God alone could redeem us and open heaven for us Lk 23:43. His sanctifying grace helps us live in the New and Eternal Covenant, preparing ourselves for heaven by giving ourselves to Rabbi Yeshua. God gives us free will. The sign of our acceptance is our participation in Rabbi Yeshua’s work of salvation in the vineyard by building God’s kingdom on earth in union with his perfect kingdom in heaven. Many souls follow and are populating heaven.
Rabbi Yeshua’s prophecy for the full number of the Gentiles, Lk 21:24, has evidently been fulfilled. We may believe that Rabbi Yeshua will soon send his two witnesses to the Jews Rev 11:3, which will lead to the ingrafting of the Jews into the Catholic Church.
§ 674: “The full inclusion of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of the full number of the Gentiles, will enable the People of God to achieve the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, in which God may be all in all.”
§ 675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. the supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
§ 676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgement. the Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,576 especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.
§ 677 “The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.”
The Second Coming will look like this: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”’ Mt 25:31–40.
“Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” Mt 25:41–46.
Then we can say, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” Rev 19:9 as we watch with awe the new Jerusalem, “coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” Rev 21:2. and hear Rabbi Yeshua announce, “the former things have passed away” Rev 21:4, and, “Behold, I make all things new” Rev 21:5.